Round 10: Jon Finkel vs. Tom Van de Logt U/R vs. U/W

Posted in Feature

By Manuel Bevand

What an AMAZING GAME!

Everybody knows Jon Finkel and how good he is at this game. As if his previous glories weren't enough, Jon also recently won the US National championships, making him a member of the USA Team for the World Champs event. Tom Van de Logt is also a member of his National Team (Netherlands), and was undefeated at 9-0 (Finkel, at 8-1, was paired up). Both the US and Netherlands teams were fighting for the top seed, the US being only five points ahead before this match took place.

Jon is playing U/R, instead of R/B as I thought. Tom is running U/W. Tom wins the flip and decided to play first. He got a pretty good opening with a Defiant Falcon on turn two and Mine Bearer on turn 3. Jon opens with a turn 3 Ribbon Snake, and does nothing on turn 4 just to cast Lunge on the Falcon after Tom uses the recruiting ability. Turn 5 sees Tom drop a Spiketail Hatchling and a Rootwater Thief, Finkel responds with a Stronghold Zeppelin. Tom added a Stormwatch Eagle to his growing army, then Finkel tried to gain control by playing a Waterfront Bouncer. Tom dominated the Bouncer, making Finkel think hard for a minute. Jon, however, looked like he has to get rid of his own Bouncer and killed it with Rhystic Lightning. Jon then puts some fat into play with a Flowstone Crusher.

A stalemate seemed to appear, as flying creatures neutralize themselves and the Crusher is held off by the Mine bearer. The Crusher attacked once, just to scout the ground, but was stopped by a double block and saved by Finkel's Seal of Removal. Back to the stalemate. Tom Van de Logt tried to shift the game's momentum in his favor by playing Arrest on the Zeppelin, but Finkel had the answer at the end of Tom's turn: Withdraw my Zeppelin and your Silkenfist Order. He then replays the Zeppelin and attacks for 4. Stalemate again, Finkel at 15, Van de Logt at 14. Defiant Vanguard came on Tom's side and looked like it was going to tip the balance in the Dutchman's favor. Jon then makes a strangle play and attacks with a lonely Rishadan Footpad. Tom could have blocked and killed it with his Eagle and bounced the Eagle, but he felt the trick and took damage instead. He then saw the reason of Jon's play : Tectonic Break for 4 ! That brings both players to three lands and neutralizes the Rebel Searcher for a while and allows Jon to lead an air attack. Tom topdecked a land and a Trap Runner to stop Jon's flying assaults. Tom was at 5, Finkel 15.

Eventually, the stalemate came back and, with the help of a Wandering Eye, it looked very good for Tom. Finkel only had a Tidal Kraken in hand but he was also down to 4 lands. Tom could start recruiting for more Rebels, stabilize the situation and eventually overrun his opponent. Jon's plan appears here to hold until he can play the Kraken and somehow deal with the Trap Runner. Tom's plan became much more aggressive suddenly: he started attacking with many flyers, losing some of them in the process to do some damage. While this is generally not a wise thing to do, his plan was obvious. With Wishmonger in hand, Tom wanted to bring Finkel low enough so he could kill him with protected creatures. Finkel draws land after land and appears to be able to play his Kraken with only one more land, but has to pitch it to a Balloon Peddler to save his life. With successful attacks and some tricky plays on both sides, Tom brought Jon down to 5 life, but his library was almost depleted. One last attack brings Jon to 4, with only one card left in Tom's library.

Now picture the situation: Tom Van de Logt had a lot of creatures, Jon Finkel had a good bunch of blockers, both players had nothing in hand (Except the Wishmonger in Tom's hand). Tom drew his last card . . . And Finkel raised his arms and cheered! A bit confused, spectators looked at the board. Tom looked at the board. Finkel was smiling like he was coming back from hell with an ice cream. Tom scratched his head. . . played the Wishmonger . . . looked again. . . did some math. . . and scooped!

SCOOPED?

Finkel just could not believe he had won. His happiness was completely faked, a master plan of bluff. With the monger, Tom could have made his Silkenfist Order totally unblockable as well as a flyer, and attacked for 4, winning the game. What a mistake! But just think . . . if Jon Finkel told you he'd won, who would you believe?

With nine minutes left in the round, Tom had to be fast and pray for a good draw. Jon, however, did get the better draw in game three and won in under five minutes with a horde of flying unblockable monstrosities.

Jon Finkel 2 Tom Van de Logt 1

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